Friday, 16 January 2015


Oooo, I've been brought up short:   Hattie, who has a blog here, has dismissed me from her blog roll as I do not post regularly.  I can understand that.  It's disappointing when a blog you like suddenly dries up.

 I love visiting her blog and have done so for a number of years - she is so prolific on a wide range of matters -  finding that I like many of the books and programmes that she likes.  She is a very learned woman.  

Now, it's true, I'm not blogging here, nor on my Costa de la Luz Gardening blog, and haven't done so for some time.   Don't ask why, it just is.   Could be something to do with the fact that for the last year my old schoolfriend from 65 years ago traced me and we've been playing Scrabble on line ever since.   I have to access it through Facebook and once I get on there I'm easily distracted by the yards of verbiage about nothing in particular. 

If other visitors who've enjoyed my previous blogging also get fed up with nothing new to read, I'll be talking to myself  if I ever take it up again.      Nothing new there.  I'm still waiting to encounter one of those musical or dance groups that strike up out of nowhere in supermarkets, stations and airports.   'Flashmobs', have just remembered the name of them.   That would be something to blog about.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Another Christmas funny

Just hope this goes on properly.   It's well worth a listen

It's Christmas Countdown by Frank Kelly who used to be in Father Ted......hilarious.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

and a Christmas-y one for fun

Good health, peace and joy to you all - always. xxx

Friday, 22 November 2013

Aging Siamese

 This is Yang, a few years ago.   He is still sleek and athletic and during the summer he prefers the outdoors.   But, come the drop in temperature he stays in and picks the choicest spots to snooze - our chairs and our bed.   He's never been a lap cat but he does like to be close to us. 

 Yin is a different matter.   She does the talking for both of them, hardly ever goes out and has turned into a butterball.  If we could put her in a baby sling and carry her around with us, she'd be in 7th heaven because she won't stop nagging until we sit  or lie down and she can snuggle up.   She even harrasses us at night to close down the PCs and go to bed.    What a tyrant. 

Well, poor love can't get out from the study window now - it's too deep a drop -  so el jefe has made her a ladder.

It's a crude affair from oddments of wood, but she loves it and didn't even need showing how to use it.  

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A bit of a moan

Usually, if I want a bit of a moan I go to a private file in my PC and let it all hang out.  But today whoever passes by  can read about the downside of living in Spain, in particular this forgotten s.w. corner of Spain.   We are between a town and a popular beach resort - an area known as the "campo".   As such, we are seen as rural and most of the houses are not quite legal.   This does not deter the local council from charging us the full urban rates, even though we have no mains water or sewerage, no proper roads unless we all club together and get them asphalted, and no street lights.   We draw water from a well with an electrical pump, filter it and boil it.   The supermarkets do a roaring trade with 5 litre bottles of drinking water. 

The infrastructure here is the pits.....electrical equipment in our area is ancient and unstable;  the telephone service - Telefonica (a world wide organisation making huge profits) is also unreliable and they won't spend the money on improving the equipment to give the majority in the campo an internet connection of more than 3 mB.  

In the last three months we have had failures of equipment, necessitating replacements - our gas boiler (all gummed up with calcium), fridge freezer, the new one of  which we now discover is not auto defrost, the t.v. (5 years old) gave up the ghost.  These were all major purchases.  

We've had two major power outages so when there's no electricity there's no water, of course,  as the pumps don't work.   We are lucky:  we have a legal electricity connection while so many do not and they have no hope of getting one as the council has clamped down on the power company's providing it.     And to cap it all, it seems a part of our router has failed and we get no wi-fi.   It's been 2 weeks since we ordered another from Telefonica....and still waiting.  Nearly all expats here watch British t.v. via satellite and the UK is moving to a new satellite whose beam will not reach the Continent, only Britain.    Alternative systems are being touted, all involving wi-fi.   There are going to be a lot of sad faces around.

Individually, these things are no big deal but put together, the frustration builds because the energy it takes to deal with Spanish bureaucracy is phenomenal.   I've been learning Spanish for over 10 years and while I get by in most situations, I'm sure I only understand half of what's said:  the local accent is almost indecipherable.   Think of a southern English person trying to fathom out a broad Glaswegian or Geordie!

Well, that's some of my moans out of my system and I feel a bit foolish in view of the catastrophes  some peoples of the world are suffering - bush fires, floods, hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes and  many have lost their homes and possessions.    That certainly puts things in perspective, eh. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Paella, Pam style

I love paella and if you've ever been in the company of Spanish people who make it, you'll notice that it's the men who vie with one another to cook it over a fire in the open air, each one swearing their recipe is the best.  

El jefe loves rice but not all the seafood stuff that goes in paella.   Instead I make one for him  with bacon, peas, chopped fried egg, sweet corn, mushrooms and onion, all flavoured with Worcester sauce and any fiery sauce I can find.   I prepare all the ingredients first by frying the bacon, then the onions, then the mushrooms.   I fry the egg separately.

My rice is idiot-proof - it always comes out light and fluffy - because I coat it in a small amount of oil or butter, or a mixture of both, in a heavy frying pan.    I add twice as much liquid as rice - usually 1 mug of rice to 2 of plain boiled water.   Bring the water back up to the boil, then turn the flame down to the minimum and cover with a very tight lid (use kitchen foil if necessary).    After 12 minutes turn off and it'll be excellent.   I use a fragrant, long-grain rice and it never fails.

Well, I've found this in my local supermarket....

Sachets of spices for paella which make it ideal for me to cook for one.   They contain garlic, paprika, saffron, cloves, pepper and cornflour.     Add to this the availability of frozen dressed mussels and huge prawns in the same supermarket, and I'm in seventh heaven.    You could add calamares and clams as well, bits of chicken or rabbit, whatever you fancy.

Poach the seafood gently in some white wine, then reserve.   Use the liquid as part of the amount when cooking the rice.  

Gently fry one sachet of the paella spices, add the rice, then the liquid and proceed as above.    All the liquid will be absorbed, the rice will be a lovely yellow colour and you can start adding your bits.    Include some peas and strips of roasted red pepper.   Here's the finished result.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

El Jefe's culinary delights

About 5 years ago, D produced his first cooking session for me - an apple pie made with Bramley apples that a friend brought us from Gibraltar.  

Next, a couple of years later,  he made a very good loaf using the bread maker.   I took pics of both and posted them somewhere on the blog as it was such a milestone:  these from the man who said food is fuel. 

I couldn't believe my ears when he said he wanted to have a go at Paul Hollywood's Chelsea buns.    I rounded up all the ingredients and stood by to be the plongeur, clearing up all the pots and bowls.   Well, he didn't back out and last week produced a tray of 8 and all very good.    The recipe on line was slightly different from the YouTube demo, which I think if he uses the modified version in future, they will be much improved.   Meanwhile, here are the results - just after proving, pre-icing and then iced.....

The icing is very special - the zest of an orange, plus icing sugar and suffient water to make it like a thickish creamy consistency.  Slop it all over the buns with a paint brush. 

It's always hit and miss with baking here because of the fluctuation in the electricity supply.   Endesa, the supply company, is making millions, but will they improve their infrastructure - no they won't.    So normally I don't bake as things tend to get burned on top before they're cooked through.   But these buns were great.